I took a moment today to really think about how long Gaelic has called to me and what I’ve DONE about that calling. You know, I came to the path of Druidry through the language. I had a dream… the ancestors told me through the blackness ‘you have to study Gaelic. Not Irish, not Welsh. SCOTTISH GAELIC.’ That was the entire dream, the voices in the darkness. Heading that dream brought me many interesting experiences, wonderful friends and of course, reconnection to the Ancestors and my spiritual path.
But the language is always first.
Fifteen or so years ago, when I was in college the second time, I had an Irish professor from the Republic of Ireland who was a native Irish speaker. He enjoyed comparing and contrasting what I knew of Gàidhlig with his Gaelige. I’ve never forgotten his comparison of my given name with its Gaelige version. He said the two were different because of the Norse / Icelandic and Pict influence from North. I’ve always looked for those differences in the languages, and because they’re just different enough I’ve never tried to learn Irish. I would just be a mess. It’s hard enough to just focus on Gàidhlig.
In my native South Florida, I studied online with a man who became my main Gaelic partner for years, and, although we never met, we attended many classes together and even ran a business together. At that time we started out with Teach Yourself Gaelic. TY was our first manual, our first foray into a language that felt both exhilarating and intimidating at the same time. Later, when he attended an actual classroom with a fluent Gaelic speaker, we switched to Gàidhlig Troimh Chòmhradh, the Catriona Parsons set used at the time at the Gaelic College in Cape Breton. I loved them, and we spent hours on the phone, parrying back and forth, and stumbling along. We used Everyday Gaelic, too, and made conversations about restaurants and cleaning and ordering food. My books fell apart from handling.
When I moved to Central Texas, I was finally able to meet a group face-to-face, and it is this group that has held together over the years, and we still continue to meet, now 4 times a month. Our leadership has changed over the years, and that service is now mine to claim, but, still, the language is still an exhilarating challenge and a joy. We’ve gone on Gaelic immersions together, most notably one in Arlington a number of years ago taught by Muriel Fisher of the Tucson Gaelic Institute, who is a lovely individual; and I studied alone at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the long-distance course. Our primary books for the group have always been my personal favorites, the ones I’d never go without: Gàidhlig Bheo. They were originally developed for the Scottish Certificate of Education Gaelic ‘O’ Grade at the National Extension College in Scotland.
Our latest thing is to do another immersion next year at Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina, and be ready to have the entire group go into something other than beginners’ Gaelic. Wish us luck!!!!
Teach Yourself Gaelic. French & European Publications: n.p., 1992. Print.
Parsons, Catriona. Gàidhlig Troimh Chòmhradh. Ceap Breatann: Na Colaisde Gàidhlig Ceap Breatann, 1991. Print.
MacNeill, Morag. Everyday Gaelic. Glasgow: Gairm, 1984. Print.
Macdonald, J. A. Gàidhlig Bheo. Cambridge: National Extension College, 1978. Print.